Immunology & Cancer (IC) track

| Why should you study Immunology and Cancer at UNIL ? | Specific training objectives | Where | Structure of the study plan | Acquired skills | Career prospects


Why should you study Immunology and Cancer at UNIL ?

  • Infections and immune disorders (allergy, autoimmunity, immunodeficiency) are a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. There is a strong need for the development of new vaccines and treatments.
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death in the rich countries and there is an urgent need for better therapies.
  • The UNIL campus in Epalinges hosts one of Europe’s biggest centers dedicated to immunology and oncology research
  • UNIL has an extensive teaching and training program in these two topics at the bachelor, master and PhD level
  • Master students have full access to probably the most modern e-learning campus in immunology and oncology
  • Students trained in immunology and oncology are well placed to compete for future job openings in academia and industry

Specific training objectives

At the end of the course the students will be able to:

• Mobilise theoretical and practical knowledge in immunology and oncology.

Systematically analyse fundamental and clinical problems in immunology and cancer biology, including diseases related to the immune system or cell transformation, drug development and treatments.

Apply modern research techniques in immunology and oncology to solve cutting edge research questions.


CIIL: Center of Immunity and Infection Lausanne-­Epalinges (Link to the map). At the nord terminus of the metro M2 line. Since september 2014: Renovated buildings and labs.

CIIL2.jpg  CIIL.jpg

Under one roof : Department of Immunobiology; CHUV Research labs; Department of Oncology, WHO, Swiss Vaccine Research Institute

  • About 300 scientists
  • More than 40 research groups
  • International and dynamic atmosphere
  • Many seminars
  • Modern equipment, animal facilities

Open since 2019: Agora translational cancer research center (on the hospital site / CHUV-Bugnon) with an additional 300 scientists and clinicians.



Structure of the study plan


1st Semester: Overview of basic concepts as well as in depth lectures

  Immunology (12h):

  • Innate immunity by Prof. W.Held
  • Adaptive immunity by Prof. S.Luther

  Biology of Cancer (12h):

  • Clinical aspects by Prof. N. Rufer
  • Molecular aspects by Prof. F. Martinon

First-step research projects : A wide and diverse choice of laboratories (List of host labs)

2nd Semester:  Lectures

  • In-depth coverage of selected aspects of immunology and cancer
  • Focus on autoimmune diseases, infections and vaccines
  • Another focus on cancer types and cancer therapies
  • Drug development in oncology

  Practical work :

Molecular and cellular biology (Mass spectrometry analysis, peptide-based cellular assays), whole tissue analysis (advanced flow cytometry, virtual histological analysis), e-learning exercises (e.g., explore a clinical case and learn about the manifestations of a disease as well as the tricky identification and treatment; read an annotated publication and propose the follow-up experiments).

This semester is characterized by a lot of interactive teaching, group work, writing and defense of a grant proposal (on your master thesis project), and finally the start of your master thesis work.

For more information, please consult the Plan of Study and detailed Courses schedules.

Listen to what a past student had to say about our course (in French with english subtitles).

3rd Semester: Learn the work at the bench and within a team.

  Discover the fascinating world of ‘research’ where you test a novel hypothesis, venture into the unknown and try to expand our current knowledge on that topic. You can find all host laboratories here.


Acquired skills

  • Read scientific articles and critically evaluate the quality and interpretation of experimental data
  • Identify biologically relevant questions based on the scientific literature
  • Plan and conduct meaningful experiments
  • Learn careful data analysis and data presentation (including statistics)
  • Present and discuss experimental data in a clear and convincing way
  • Write a comprehensive grant, poster and thesis in English
  • Be comfortable to work independently as well as in a team
  • Learn to manage a project and to move it forward successfully

The skills learned in this program will be useful for many different professions that you may choose in your future career.


Career prospects

Academic career: Basic research, Translational research, Clinical research (in immunology, infectious diseases, vaccinology, cancer), Teaching of biological sciences and biomedical sciences

UNIL PhD program in Cancer and Immunology

Non-academic field: Research in the industry, Science Management, Granting agencies, Scientific journals, Regulation agencies, Patents, Clinical trials, Finances/Investment banking


Our aim : Give you a good training, transmit our fascination for research, and give you the best tools for obtaining an exciting job!




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General Information



Prof. S. Luther
Dpt. of Immunobiology


In charge of the Immunology & Cancer track

Office D305
Ch. des Boveresses 155
1066 Epalinges
Tel. +41 21 692 56 78


For any administrative question (e.g. registration, equivalencies, etc.) : please contact the School of Biology.

CH-1015 Lausanne
Tel. +41 21 692 40 10
Fax +41 21 692 40 05